Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

DiNapoli warns of higher fares, poorer service if MTA funding dispute continues

Commuters board a westbound Long Island Rail Road

Commuters board a westbound Long Island Rail Road train at the Hicksville station on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY - A state comptroller's report released Tuesday said commuters and taxpayers could soon pay the fare for the political gridlock between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over how to better fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"If the MTA doesn't get the funding it needs, the MTA will have to choose between cutting the size of the capital program or borrowing more, which could lead to less reliable service or higher fares and tolls," said state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The MTA, a state authority serving New York City and its suburbs, is seeking state and city funds to fill a $9.8 billion funding gap.

But little has changed since July when de Blasio and Cuomo were engaged in a feud over several issues. The fight included which Democrat was to blame for the MTA's growing need for funding to maintain and improve service.

The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council says those needs are severe for the LIRR and its deteriorating infrastructure, which is increasing delays. Earlier this month, Council Chairman Mark Epstein said the situation is "getting unbearable for riders."

The mayor's and governor's offices provided more dueling statements Tuesday.

"The state has underinvested for years," said de Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick. "The state must do its job and work with the city on a fair and reasonable framework to move forward."

The governor, through his MTA appointees who run the authority, said: "It's long past time for the city to contribute its fair share to the MTA Capital Program."

The gap is looming despite a spike in ridership and the MTA's own cost-cutting, which expected to total $1.8 billion between 2009 and 2019, DiNapoli said.

Cuomo, citing his budget cuts to address a multi-billion dollar deficit he inherited in Albany, pushed the MTA to cut spending and increase revenue, while calling on de Blasio to pay more. De Blasio noted that city residents pay most of the MTA's budget through fares and taxes, and the state is responsible for the finances of the state authority.

DiNapoli said the MTA projects growing budget gaps of $175 million in 2018 and $224 million in 2019 despite a planned 4-percent increase in fares in 2017 and 2019.

DiNapoli's report stated that subway use is expected to reach 1.77 billion riders by the end of this year, while the Long Island Rail Road ridership remains lower than before the recession despite some gains.

Latest Long Island News